Eating out need not be expensive, even if it’s in your favorite restaurant. In fact, you can save a lot of money if you know the neat little ways in which you can get the best restaurant deals. Restaurants have all sorts of deals and offerings that make eating out a lot more affordable. All you have to do is know where the deals area are and when to get them.
Here are some of the best ways to save money when eating out:
Party because it’s your birthday.
Many restaurants offer free food to guests on their birthday, so be sure you visit your favorite location on your birthday. From free dessert and a free drink to a discount from your bill, there are a lot of birthday freebies that can be claimed. If you’re part of a restaurant’s mailing list, they typically send out a birthday coupon for a free menu item that can be claimed. Examples are Applebee’s Birthday Special (with an eClub signup) and Chilli’s free appetizer or dessert with extra special birthday points on your rewards card.
Don’t be too quick to shrug off the rewards programs.
When you see a poster advertising the restaurant’s rewards program, or when your server comes to you with a flyer suggesting that you sign up for it, there are usually two kinds of reactions. Some individuals automatically turn down anything that is offered to them. And then there are those individuals who eagerly sign up for all the rewards programs.
When it comes to restaurants, more and more are offering loyalty programs that encourage guests to come back. Oftentimes, this comes with a program that allows quests to earn points and then redeem them. This is all well and good, but what people are forgetting is that these rewards programs often come with privileges as well – free dessert, free coffee refills, and even huge discounts on special occasions.
Sharing is loving.
Eating out as a group is a great way to save money. Restaurants usually do this to minimize the time it takes to prepare individual meals. If a group can agree on several dishes to share, this is a great way to save money and time. If you’re going as a pair, it’s also worth looking at just sharing a meal. Many restaurants have portion sizes that are large enough for sharing. Applebee’s offers a 2 for $20 deal where guests get two entrées and one appetizer to share.
Bring the kids for a treat on a Tuesday.
Nothing saves money like FREE food. Restaurants offer ‘kids eat free’ days. Chick-Fil-A offers a free kid’s meal to kids every 5:30-7:30 PM on Tuesdays. At Denny’s, kids eat free on Tuesdays between 4:00-10:00 PM. It’s not even just Tuesdays, because there are many restaurants that give these kinds of free (or nearly-free) offers for kids. At IHOP for instance, kids eat free from August 1 to September 25 every day, between 4:00pm -10:00.
Sign up for their email list.
Many restaurants have mailing lists that guests can easily sign up for online to receive exclusive offers and news. Signing up for regular emails usually includes receiving coupons and discounts as well as special offers for birthdays and anniversaries. As a way to encourage sign-up, restaurants offer a free menu item just for signing up.
Many restaurants are active on various social media platforms. participate by making sure you like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram. Some restaurants give you freebies when you do this, but the point is when you’re following your restaurant in social media, you’re the first to know every time there’s a deal or a promo. Restaurants still of course send these deals through email, but social media is far more interactive and more real-time as well.
Always ask for the specials.
When you’re in a restaurant that you normally frequent, you usually already have an idea of what you’re getting. However, when you go to any new restaurant, it’s a great idea to always pay attention to what the specials are. These could be in a flyer on your table, or you can simply ask your server what the current deals are. Even if you already have an idea of what you want, knowing what the deals are can save you a lot of money. It can also force you to try new items that you would have otherwise simply ignored.
Get the lunch special for dinner.
There are restaurants that categorize their food based on the time of day that you’re eating it, and more often than not, the dinner dishes are the most expensive. Don’t fall for that trap. Instead, check out the lunch menu and see if you can order it for dinner. This shouldn’t be a problem for most restaurants.
Skip the soda and the bottled water.
Restaurants charge high prices for their fountain drinks. Guests should simply ask for a cup of water with their meal. Bottled water is usually not an option at it tends to be expensive as well. In the same vein, guests should stay away from bottled soda. Restaurants typically charge a premium price for a bottle of soda.
There’s a reason why they’re called ‘value meals’.
Restaurants offer value meals as a way for guests to purchase a combination of menu items at a reduced price when compared to ordering the items individually. Guests should always consider value meals as a way to save money.